Tag Archives: Mike Tyson

Ip Man 3 (2015)

ip man 3

I remember seeing either Ip Man 1 or 2 on TV while out at lunch one day, and I thought to myself, man, this movie sucks. Yeah, the fight scenes are pretty good, but it was pretty much Team China vs nasty, evil, big-nosed white people who can’t act.

Apparently, I’m in the minority, because everyone seems to love the Ip Man movies, which explains why they made Ip Man 3, AND managed to get Mike Tyson to go up against Donnie Yen for an epic showdown.

So is Ip Man 3 actually any good? Yes and no. Again, I came away thinking the film was a little tacky. It has a very simple plot with a righteous protagonist who might as well be Asian Jesus because all he can do is good. And of course, the film milks the fact that Bruce Lee was Ip Man’s student for the third time in three movies. So if you’re looking for high quality storytelling and drama, you’re not going to get it here.

Having said that, Donnie Yen is actually a much better actor than people give him credit for, and he makes Ip Man likable despite the obvious contrivances written into the film to make him too good to be true. I get that he’s a great martial artist and Wing Chun master, but they make him basically unbeatable, so the vulnerability never feels real. Plus I really don’t see the need to make him an all-round super bloke on top of that, a fantastic husband and father who also happens to be super wise. It makes him a little boring.

And then there are the fight scenes. They are absolutely superb, proving that Yen is not only one of the greatest martial artists alive today, he’s also one of the best fight choreographers there has ever been. Whether it’s solo training or hand-to-hand combat or fighting with weapons, Yen makes  sure it’s a beautiful thing to watch. Quick cuts are cut to a minimum, and the controlled pace and flow create a breathtaking experience.

The Tyson fight scene does not disappoint. The set-up is silly and almost laughable, but when they start going toe-to-toe it becomes a majestic chess match of grace against power. Tyson shows off some of the moves that once made him the “baddest man alive”, while Yen does a great job in showing off the contrasting styles between the two fighters.

So while Ip Man 3 is still marred by problems commonly seen in Asian martial arts movies, there’s no denying that the film can be exciting and a pure pleasure to watch at times. On a pure spectacle and popcorn entertainment level, the movie delivers in spades. In my opinion it is worth sitting through all the other stuff just for the action scenes alone.

3.25 stars out of 5

Movie Review: The Hangover Part II (2011)

I’m probably one of the rare few that didn’t think The Hangover was an awesome film.  A clever premise, interesting characters, and some wild, outrageous and completely insane situations — yes — but personally I didn’t find it all that funny.

A couple of my friends told me that the sequel, The Hangover Part II, was very very funny, so despite my wariness, I went and checked it out.

Mmm…like the characters in the film, I honestly couldn’t remember a whole lot about the original, but even so, this sequel felt eerily similar, almost recycled.  The same bunch of guys have a wild night out before a wedding, get plastered, can’t remember anything the next morning, and have to retrace their steps in limited time to find a missing person.  Like the predecessor, it’s crazy, crude, often disgusting and utterly improbable — meaning if you enjoyed the original you’ll probably like this one too.

Unfortunately for me, it meant another pretty average experience.

Moving the ‘Wolfpack’ to Bangkok was a step up from Vegas, and they sure did exploit the beautiful scenery, the vastly different culture, the squalid parts of the city and the language barrier.  I also thought the three main characters — Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) — provided a formidable trio with distinct personalities that meshed well together.

But ultimately, The Hangover Part II just wasn’t very funny.  Well, perhaps I should clarify by saying that it’s not my kind of humour.  Like the first film, it relied on outrageous situations, gross out scenarios and random/awkard/uncomfortable moments provided by Galifianakis (who shot to stardom after the original).  It’s a formula that obviously worked for audiences the first time, but I could count the number of genuine laughs I had from this film on one hand.  A big reason for that was because a lot of the gags, especially the sexual ones, were telegraphed and you could see them coming a mile away.

The biggest disappointment for me was the Asian gangster Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong), who for me was absolutely the bright spark of the original.  In the sequel, however, I felt his jokes were more scripted rather than ad libbed, and as a result he wasn’t nearly as funny as he was or should have been.  I still love Ken but he couldn’t lift the film this time.

Having said all that, I still maintained interest in the story most of way through because of the curiosity factor — after all, I did want to find out what happened to them that night.  But as was the case with the original, that knowledge didn’t mean much by the end.

2 stars out of 5

Movie Review: Tyson (2009)

tyson 2009

Love him or hate him, Mike Tyson is a magnet for publicity and controversy.

In his prime, Tyson captured the imagination of boxing fans all around the world with his ferocious, brutal knockouts.  To this day, many still believe that at his best, Tyson would have beaten anyone in the history of the sport.  Watching some of the highlight footage in the opening of the new documentary Tyson, it’s hard to disagree.

In his early 20s, Tyson was an absolute beast of a man, built like a brick and possessing a perfect combination of power, speed and explosiveness beyond belief.  Today, apart from the tribal facial tattoo on the left side of his face, you would have never have thought that this high-pitched, softly spoken, mellow man with a noticeable lisp was once considered the ‘baddest man on the planet’.  An unbeatable force of nature.  The contrast is both shocking and saddening.

I suppose that is what director James Toback wanted to achieve with this film, to show a side of Mike Tyson that the public never saw.  To tell the tragic story of a deeply flawed man who had the potential to be the greatest heavyweight of all time but was consumed by his fear of the world and his hatred of himself, leading to one of the most publicised and devastating downfalls in sports.  In my opinion, Toback only half-succeeded with Tyson.

Tyson is a relatively straightforward sports documentary that chronicles Mike Tyson’s life from birth to present day.  The film comprises a series of interviews with the man himself, some old archive footage of Tyson out of the ring, news footage and clips of Tyson’s most famous fights.  As a compilation of Tyson highlights inside the ring, there’s no complaints – it’s pretty darn exciting.  However, as a documentary, it suffers from one fatal problem – we only get to hear Tyson’s side of the story. His voice is the only voice.

Yes, Tyson appears to be honest in the interviews, and he seems genuine.  He even chokes up and sheds a few tears over the life he managed to mangle up, the relationships he destroyed and the hundreds of millions he wasted away or allowed to be stolen from him.  There’s a fair bit of insight into his psyche, and in particular, what went through his mind at the times that everyone thought he had lost it.  But honestly, it all feels incredibly sanitised.

Part of that stems from the fact that Tyson narrates the entire film.  You don’t know whether some of the things he said are scripted, or if he had many takes to ‘get it right’.  Was the film made independently or did Tyson have the last say into what went in and what was kept out?  Was he only saying what he wanted us to hear so we would feel sorry for him?

Moreover, while the film doesn’t ignore them completely, it does feel like it glossed over some of the toughest topics in Tyson’s life, such as his documented tendency to resort to domestic violence, his rape conviction, his drug addiction, his time in prison and his infamous ear-biting fight against Evander Holyfield.  Although Tyson ultimately claims responsibility for everything that has happened in his life, when it came to these issues, he showed plenty of regret, but little remorse.  You want to believe him, but it was hard to because all you could see was a unrepentant man coming up with excuses and throwing around blame at those that he thought wronged him (in particular Don King, but every fighter thinks Don King wronged them!).  These were times when another perspective would have been perfect.  An interview with someone else that told a different side of the story.  But we didn’t get any of that in Tyson. Consequently, even though it was easy to pity Tyson, it was difficult to feel any compassion towards him.

That said, there were some good moments littered throughout, and the film itself (at around 85 minutes) was never boring.  In particular, Tyson’s relationship with his mentor Cus D’Amato (who passed away in 1985) and his love for his children were the most touching aspects of the film.  At the same time, however, it hard to forget all the terrible things he had done and the multiple chances in life that he managed to screw up time and time again.

In some ways, Tyson was the ultimate bully inside the ring, and the ultimate coward outside of it.  His life is a true tragedy – a man who overcame impossible odds and disadvantages to stand on top of the world, only to self-destruct and fall into the lowest depths because of his cowardice and refusal to learn from his mistakes.  The recent death of Tyson’s youngest daughter Exodus in a freak treadmill accident (which happened after the release of the film) is just another sad chapter in his life.  While Tyson will never be the great boxer he once was inside the ring, one can only hope that he can continue to be a better person outside of it.

3 stars out of 5.

[PS: Here’s an interesting article I found on Tyson that paints a particularly unflattering view of the boxer.  I was a little too young when Tyson ruled the world, but I did know of him through Mike Tyson’s ‘Punch Out!’, which has been rereleased on the Nintendo Wii but without Iron Mike.  I am, however, very much looking forward to Fight Night Round 4 which will finally have Tyson as one of the licensed boxers.]

[PPS: I just found out that Tyson recently got married for the third time, 2 weeks after his daughter’s death.  Not judging, just a piece of fact.]